Ukrainian President Zelensky arrived in Rome on Saturday for his first official visit to Italy since Russia’s invasion.
He is scheduled to hold meetings with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis. The discussions are expected to cover a range of issues, including the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the situation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the efforts made by Ukraine to combat corruption and promote economic growth.
“Today in Rome,” Zelensky tweeted, following his arrival at the military base of Rome’s Ciampino Airport where he was met by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
“iI’m meeting with President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Pope. An important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine!”
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Televised images showed a long convoy of vehicles transporting President Zelensky from the airport, with large areas of the city being locked down by security forces.
Meanwhile, Germany announced a 2.7 billion euro weapons package for Kyiv, including tanks, armoured vehicles, and air-defence systems.
Although Italy has historically maintained warm ties with Moscow, as a NATO and EU member, it has supported Kyiv with weapons and funds since the Russian invasion in February 2022, and has also backed Western sanctions against RUssia.
The issue of sending weapons to Kyiv, however, remains politically sensitive in Italy, and the exact details of the aid that the country has provided have not been disclosed by the government.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who visited Kyiv in February, hosted Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Rome last month for a conference on how Italian businesses could help rebuild the war-torn country.
It is currently unclear how long President Zelensky will be in Rome, with speculation that he may also be planning a trip to Germany this weekend.